25
Aug
12

By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee

Gitchee Gumee as Longfellow referred to it, Gichigami or “Big Water” to the Ojibwe natives, Lake Superior was my destination for the day. Lake Superior State Forest campground on the dirt portion of H-58 east of Grand Marais was where I hoped to find a campsite to spend a night on the big lake.

As I was loading up for the day, a fellow hotel guest asked me a few questions about the V-Strom. He is a long haul trucker but has a Gold Wing at home he gets to ride on occasion. Without fail, the question, “Do you feel safe as a woman traveling alone?” came up. I’m very used to this question and explained that in general I feel very safe and that common sense is the best tool to protecting yourself while touring. Checked out and loaded up, I was on the road around 8:00am, heading north again! As always, being in the Upper Peninsula felt great, it was nice to be away from the city for a bit.

Heading through Newberry, I noticed signs in store windows thanking firefighters for their help, evidence of this spring’s Duck Lake forest fires. I made the turnoff to Muskallonge Lake and H-58, 23 miles until the pavement ends and the V-Strom fun begins! The Wee handled the dirt road quite well despite its fairly worn street tires, I stood on the pegs and enjoyed the fresh air. Thankfully, when I finally made it to my destination campground there were several campsites available. I decided on site #4, a fairly secluded site with a path down to Lake Superior. I quickly unloaded my drybag full of camping gear, set up my little tent and hung my new ENO Singlenest Hammock (review to soon follow).

Lake Superior State Forest Campground – Site #4

Dragging myself out of the hammock was a chore but I had to head into Grand Marais to grab a bite to eat. Riding the Wee into town was a ball, I was singing at the top of my lungs as I pulled into town, The Sportsman’s Restaurant was my stop. I was hoping breakfast was served all day, I love their french toast, but they stopped breakfast at 11:00 I was there at 11:05, bummer. After inhaling (my normal mode of eating) my burger, I buzzed across the street to the small town grocery store to pickup pop, adult beverages and some grub for the evening.

Hmm…no cooler for the beer or the pop, time for some moto-camper improvisation. Since the V-Strom didn’t have Givi bag hangers, I was using some older soft saddlebags for this trip. I lined one side with a grocery bag and filled it with ice – instant cooler!

My moto-camper cooler – still had ice left the next morning

I had one more stop to make before heading to my home for the night, on our recent car camping trip we found a great source of firewood just east of town. This guy had a firewood buffet, you could choose from several different hardwoods, softwoods and small pieces of split cedar for kindling. I grabbed a bundle of birch and a bundle of cedar kindling and strapped them to the bike – have I mentioned Rok Straps are one of the best moto inventions ever?

The Wee makes a great firewood hauler

Singing Janis Joplin’s ‘Mercedes Benz’ at the top of my lungs, I was loving life!  That’s when it happened…I overreacted to a car coming the opposite way (narrow truck trail type road).  I pulled too far to the right and the bike’s front wheel  was sucked into about 5 inches of sand.  As the bike swerved slightly, I did something very stupid…chopped the throttle instead of accelerating, my back wheel hopped over the sandy embankment on the side of the road.  Looking back, adding to the V-Strom’s top heavy nature by loading firewood up top probably wasn’t the best idea 🙂

With adrenaline (and embarrassment) surging, I did the first thing I could think of…I grabbed the Wee by the bars and yanked all 500 lbs of it in a rage.  I never said I was bright!  As I righted the bike, it started slipping in the sand and I had to quickly set it back down.  Despite the diminutive assigned to it, the Wee is anything but little and light!  It was then I started to realize I was a bit bruised and shredded, the bike was damaged very little thanks to the frame sliders and other safety doodads.  While standing on the side of the road trying to figure out how I was going to get myself out of this mess, a couple in a truck showed up, followed by a trio of dual-sport riders – a sight for sore eyes!

After a bit of effort, we got the bike up but still had to contend with the rear wheel being stuck in a sandy embankment.  The guy from the truck and one of the dual-sporters pushed while I hit the throttle and I was finally out of the mess.  Thank goodness for kind strangers.  I’ve never backpacked but have heard of “trail magic” in the form of people unexpectedly helping or the like.  For as much as people worry about me traveling alone, I’ve experienced the motorcycle touring equivalent of “trail magic” more than once.  For anyone feeling down on mankind, take a road trip, meet some great people, it’ll restore your faith in the good of people!

The couple in the truck were heading my way, so they loaded up my firewood and followed me to the campground.  After thanking them profusely, and offering them a cold one (the beer survived the crash thankfully), they were off, on their way to their campground.  Still shaking from the crash, I cracked open a beer and attempted to calm myself down.  Prior to crashing, my intent was to head over to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and hike the Chapel Loop, one of my favorite hikes in the area.  After the crash, I decided I should just stay put, enjoy a beer or two and relax.

Sweating from the effort of wrestling the motorcycle, I took a quick dip in Lake Superior followed by a nap in the hammock.  I swear ENO has perfected time travel, whenever I get in that hammock it’s all of a sudden 2 hours later 🙂  It will definitely be a constant in my motorcycle camping kit from now on.

A quick rest in my ENO Hammock – doubles as clothesline!

After I managed to get a decent campfire going without lighting my hair on fire (which I’ve done the last couple times I’ve camped) I headed down to the beach for the sunset.  Despite the black flies trying to make me a meal, the sunset was beautiful – it was going to be a great night!

Trying out the Crazy Creek Hexlite chair (another soon to review) while enjoying the campfire

Sunset on Lake Superior

There was no rain in the nighttime forecast so instead of sleeping in my stuffy tent, I dragged my sleeping bag to the hammock and crawled in.  I quickly slipped into sleep under the stars next to the dying embers of the campfire.

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6 Responses to “By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee”


  1. 1 Mike
    September 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Good read Stacey Uncle Mike

  2. September 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Much respect from a fellow traveler, although I’m not quite as brave / wild as I stick mostly to the streets & hotels.

    Great read and photos.

    Reading about the little incident with the sand felt so familiar: from the reaction to embarrassment and I’ve had that moment when checking the bike for damage and realizing that I should probably check myself also. The kindness of strangers is an amazing thing – we all depend on it at one time or another.

    Look forward to future posts!

    • October 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks for reading! So sorry it took me this long to reply, trying to eek a few more rides out of this season! I’m not sure I’m brave, I just figured out that I could afford longer trips if I tent it here and there with a couple of cheap motels thrown in 😀 If it were up to my parents/boyfriend, I’d be in a motel the whole time!

      I’ve only been riding street since 2008 and the incident with the sand was my first actual crash, sure woke me up! I think I was more upset that I was test riding the bike and was worried I did damage. I didn’t and the little red V-Strom is my new (errr…new to me) ride, definitely fits my riding style better than my 2006 Ninja 650 and a lot more comfortable.

      I seriously enjoyed your out west ride report and look forward to reading more from you as well! Ride safe 🙂

  3. 5 twoscamps
    March 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Love reading about your adventures! Glad you were ok! You are amazing!


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New bow came just before I headed north for rifle season.  Picked up a used PSE Ghost for a decent price on E-Bay, 40 lb limbs and an ILF riser.  I need Hans and Frans to pump me up, I can draw it but it ain’t pretty 😂. For the time being I’ll stick to my 35 lb and work on form. #psearchery #recurvebow #recurve #archery #tradbow #traditionalarchery Yukon was so happy he got to go into the shop today!  He always loves when he finds new people to give him butt scratchins’ 😂 #labmix #blacklab #labradorretriever #labsofinstagram #rescuedog #muttsofinstagram #michigan #flyshop #olddogsrule #seniordog Took my buck into the DNR check station yesterday.  As a scientist, it’s part of the process I really enjoy.  They aged him at at least 3 1/2 years old, possibly 4 1/2, antler bases measured 29 mm and 31mm. @michigandnr #whitetailhunting #deerhunting #rifleseason2017 #riflehunting #michigan #buck #whitetail #deer #antler #buck The heart from my buck was huge!  This is destined for anticuchos, can’t wait! #deerheart #hunting #whitetailhunting #deerhunting #rifleseason2017 #michigan
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